Cash Assistance for Families

This article was produced by CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Cash Assistance for Families

If your family has very low income or no income at all, you may be able to get cash assistance.

If you cannot work because of a disability, you should also apply for Disability and SSI. See our booklet, Disability and SSI.

How much cash assistance could we get?

If you have children at home, a family of three could get about $570 a month in the form of TFA cash assistance.

How to apply: Get an application online at, from any DSS office, or by calling 1-855-626-6632. Fill it out and mail it to the Scanning Center (the address will be on the application), or take it to your local DSS office. Call 2-1-1 for the local DSS address. You should get a decision in 45 days.

If you have a disability that makes it hard to do all the steps DSS asks when you apply, ask your DSS worker for help. Explain your disability and tell your worker what kind of help you need.

You can ask

  • for help filling out forms;
  • for help getting documents that you need; or
  • to meet with DSS in person or by phone, depending on which is better for you.

How long does cash assistance last?

If your family income stays low, you could get cash assistance for 21 months, and then apply for two six-month extensions, for a total of 33 months.

After 33 months you may be able to get additional 6-month extensions (up to 60 months total) if you havetwo barriers that make it so you can only work in a limited way. They include the following:

  • A child in the home who
    • has a serious physical or behavioral health problem, or
    • is having problems with the courts or the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  • An adult in the home who
    • has a serious physical or mental health problem,
    • has a learning disability,
    • has substance abuse problems,
    • has problems with domestic violence,
    • can’t read English, or
    • has childcare or transportation problems that interfere with his or her ability to work.

Special Help for Victims of Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence, call any of the numbers below to get help extending your cash assistance:

  • Your DSS worker. He or she may ask for proof.
  • Statewide Legal Services: 800-453-3320.

What if we need it for longer?

If your family is in a special situation, you may be exempt. That means you can get cash assistance for longer.

Here are some examples:

  • You have a baby at home under 1 year old.
  • None of the adults at home can work because
    • they have to stay home to care for a family member with a disability, or
    • they have a disability that prevents them from working.

How long can we get cash assistance if we are exempt?

Exempt families can get cash assistance for as long as they are eligible. Even if you lost assistance because you broke a program rule, you could become eligible again if circumstances now make you exempt.

Are there things we must do while we get cash assistance?

If the adult family members who get cash assistance are able to work, they must

  • work, or
  • do a work training program called JFES.

“Able to work” means you are not

  • disabled,
  • caring for a baby, or
  • caring for a disabled family member.

What is JFES?

JFES is short for Jobs First Employment Services Program. If you are not working, you will have to go to JFES before you can get benefits.

If you do not go to JFES, and continue to cooperate with the program JFES develops for you, you may lose your cash assistance.

What if they want to stop my cash assistance?

If you get a notice from DSS saying you did something wrong and may lose cash assistance (this is called a sanction notice), ask for a hearing. Ask right away, even if you do not need cash assistance now.

If you do not ask for a hearing, you may never be able to get cash assistance in the future.

Remember: Keep a copy of everything you give to DSS.

How do I ask for a hearing?

To ask for a hearing, you can

  • fill out and return the appeal form that came with the notice, or
  • mail or fax DSS a letter asking for a hearing.

If you decide to mail or fax DSS asking for a hearing, use the address or fax number printed on your notice. You can fax it to 860-424-5729.

Your letter should have the following:

  • Your name, address, the date, and your DSS client number.
  • Your reason for wanting a hearing.
  • Your signature.

Keep a copy of your letter and your fax confirmation.

Can I get help for my hearing?

Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320. If DSS made a mistake, they might get you a lawyer for your hearing.

Who will be at the hearing?

These people will be at your hearing:

  • you;
  • someone from DSS to explain why your cash assistance should stop; and
  • an independent officer (like a judge) who will decide your case. The officer may be in the room with you or on a video screen.

What happens at the hearing?

  • The officer may ask you why you think you should not lose your cash assistance.
  • Give the officer your answer. Also tell the officer that you want safety net services.
  • The officer will ask DSS to explain their side.
  • The officer will decide if he or she agrees with you or DSS.

What if I lose my cash assistance?

If you lose your cash assistance, you should

  • ask your DSS worker for safety net services, which can help you pay rent and other expenses; and
  • call 2-1-1 and ask for help.

Important! Even if you lose cash assistance, your medical coverage and SNAP should continue.

If you are getting DSS emergency housing and cash assistance…

Ask DSS if you are eligible for help with

  • moving expenses;
  • expenses to store your things (in some situations);
  • money to pay a security deposit for heating;
  • money to pay a security deposit for a new apartment if you can afford the rent; and
  • fixing or replacing clothing or household items.

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